There are all kinds of fun ways to cast and credit celebrities.
We've seen cases where a very famous actor plays an impossibly small part in a movie, either as themselves or as a character. We've seen cases when a fictional character is listed in the credits as Himself or Herself. We've seen an actor playing a character with the same name as themselves. We've seen a real celebrity appear as themselves on a show for a quick laugh or maybe they take over the entire episode. And we've seen a beloved actor parody themselves by playing the flanderized version of themselves or their most well-known character for laughs.
This trope is when a real-life celebrity or famous figure is playing a fictionalized version of themselves, as a main character or recurring character. This is mostly a television trope, but there are film examples. For shows that take place in an alternate Hollywood, such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage and The Larry Sanders Show, this is the norm. It would be hard to believe it's Hollywood if you'd never heard of any of the "stars", would it?
This real celebrity is playing themselves, but they are inserted into fictional circumstances, play alongside clearly fictitious characters and sometimes have fictional backstories in relation to those fictional characters. This differs from an Autobiographical Role, where the celebrity is playing themselves in the actual story of their life.
As Himself is usually credited as, well: Report Siht as Herself. Though occasionally you will see Report Siht as "Report Siht". An actor might request the latter if they want it to be clearer that this is a purely fictionalized version of themselves.
Occasionally, there will be an example of this with a deceased star/famous figure. This will often be done using archive footage, but the trope still applies because they are still playing themselves in fictional circumstances (Forrest Gump didn't actually meet John F. Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson, folks).
What's the difference between this and The Danza? Ask yourself this... is Alice playing a character who just happens to be named Alice as well? Or is she actually playing Alice? The first one is The Danza. The latter is As Himself.
- Since it's a series about voice actors, Seiyu's Life! has famous seiyuu cameos at least Once an Episode including Masako Nozawa, Hiroshi Kamiya, and Yukari Tamura. And of course, the author herself, Masumi Asano and her Identical Strangers.
- Aside from Minoru Shiraishi, Lucky Star features few seiyuus as themselves, such as Aya Hirano, Minori Chihara, Yūko Gotō, Daisuke Ono, and a clerk who is obviously based on Tomokazu Sugita.
- In Case Closed, Minami Takayama appears as herself, while Acting for Two with Conan.
- In Pokémon the Series: XY, when a Pikachu movie is made, we see the dubbing process for a bit. A female seiyuu who looks like Ikue Otani voices Super Pikachu, The Hero played by Pikachu. However, we only hear her voice in the movie itself, and yes, Super Pikachu is voiced by Ikue Otani outside of the universe.
- The first broadcast episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has this in-universe. That episode is in its entirety a horrendously bad amateur movie in which each member of the SOS Brigade plays a character with their same name. (It's also a case of My Nayme Is, since the characters' first names are in katakana, rather than the original kanji/hiragana.)
- The epic finale of Pop Team Epic has Pipimi turned to stone and Popuko crying over the loss of her friend, until Shouta Aoi in front of a Green Screen shows up and reveals he has the power to travel back in time to save her.
- The regular second commentator/analyst in Uma Musume is Junko Hosoe, a past jockey who is now a real-life horse racing analyst.
- An interesting case in Dropkick on My Devil: Hatsune Miku appears in multiple cameos, and each one is "voiced" using the Vocaloid synthesizer.
- Portrait of Madame X: Downplayed. It is said that various unfounded rumors about the model Gautreau's sexual exploits were what led to Sargent wanting to create the portrait, the titular "Madame X" herself being a character that was confident in her sexuality. Just the fact that the portrait represented a character and not the model was considered a very modern idea.
- In the audiobook version of World War Z, which is performed by a full cast with different actors reading each of the characters interviewed for the book, the character of "The Interviewer" is specifically identified as Max Brooks (the actual author of the book) and his part is performed by Brooks himself.
- In the Baker's End series of audio dramas, which are unofficial sequels to the Nest Cottage series of Doctor Who audio dramas, the Captain Ersatz Fourth Doctor is actually named Tom Baker.
- Dan Choi, known for his activism in the effort to repeal the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, appears in issue #4 of Batwoman's run in Detective Comics. He is attending West Point with Kate Kane and speaks to her just before she is outed and "separated" from the military. He was consulted for the story in that issue and receives "special thanks to 1LT Daniel Choi (USMA 2003) for his generous assistance in research for this issue" on the cover page.
- An issue of Marvel's Count Duckula book features Geraldo Rivera as a live photo image on the cover (with a cartoon Duckula) and a cartoon image in the body of the story. It's a send-up of Rivera's ill-fated attempt to open Al Capone's vault and the show where he suffers a broken nose when a guest hurls a chair through the studio.
- An issue of Marvel Team-Up has Spider-Man attend the broadcast of an episode of Saturday Night Live and battling Silver Samurai alongside the cast. The SNL episode was hosted by Stan Lee who appears as well.
- In Origin Story, Alex Harris makes a cameo appearance on CSI: Miami as herself in her "Superwoman" guise.
- Sharon Rice-Weber (the wife of noted novelist David Weber) gave her permission to be included in The Institute Saga. Her character shows up on the bridge that Magneto relocates and is the one who takes Magneto down.
- In Finding Dory, Sigourney Weaver plays as an announcer of the same name who welcomes visitors to the fictional aquarium. This is one of the most remembered scenes from the movie, partly because of her popularity, and partly because she says the movie's Arc Words for the first time.
Sigourney Weaver: Hello. I'm Sigourney Weaver. Won't you please join us, as we explore the wonders of the Pacific Ocean and the amazing life it holds within. Witness the majesty of the beluga whale. (...) And welcome to the Marine Life Institute, where we believe in rescue, rehabilitation and release.
- The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part: Bruce Willis, although he specifically dresses and acts like John McClane.
- Lunar Park is narrated in first person by Bret Easton Ellis, who is (like in the real world) the author of American Psycho and several other successful novels. The events in the novel, however, are completely fictional.
- Similarly, Philip Roth's novel Operation Shylock is narrated in first person by the famous Jewish-American author, Philip Roth. While most of the events in the book are fictional, it contains segments of a real interview Roth made with Israeli novelist Aharon Appelfeld.
- Stieg Larsson wrote in Swedish boxer/tv-host Paolo Roberto as a character in The Girl Who Played with Fire, book two of the Millennium Series. Guess who played him in the movie?
- Kurt Vonnegut shows up in a few of his own books, most notably Breakfast of Champions, in which he (as the author) directs the action for the last few chapters from the shadows.
- At one point in The Dark Tower, Stephen King's characters have to save his life.
- In The Princess Bride, William Goldman, the author, has a major role in the story (or at least plays an author named William Goldman...).
- In the second Shadow Police novel, The Severed Streets, Neil Gaiman appears as a supporting character. The book is by Doctor Who alumnus and fellow comic book writer Paul Cornell.
- Al Franken's book Why Not Me? is all about a fictionalized, Jerkass version of Al Franken running for President of the United States. He makes it clear in the Afterword that he is not "the asshole portrayed in the book."
- An In-Universe example appears in the Dream Park novel The Barsoom Project; actor Robin Bowles plays himself in the "fat ripper" Fimbulwinter Game. Participants speculate that the portly Bowles signed on to help him lose weight for an upcoming role.
- Played with by Steven Zoltan Brust, whose Dragaera novels have featured multiple passing references to a writer from a very distant realm (implied to be our own Earth) who has consulted with in-Verse characters about their stories or their world's history. This mysterious writer is referenced only by the initials "SZB".
- Christopher Isherwood has several novels narrated by Christopher Isherwood. Initially Isherwood used his middle names, William Bradshaw, as his narrator but later decided that was literarily dishonest.
- Bally's Playboy pinball features Hugh Hefner and real-life playmates Patti McGuire and Sondra Theodore.
- As expected, the Elvira pinballs Elvira and the Party Monsters and Scared Stiff star Elvira as herself.
- While Muppet Movies are known for having plentiful celebrity cameos, Muppets Most Wanted credits Danny Trejo not as "himself" but as "Danny Trejo".
- It's been explained in interviews that the Muppets are playing fictionalized versions of themselves in their films.
- A later episode of The Sifl and Olly Show featured Tony Hawk as a sock puppet version of himself, acting as a stand-in for Saint Peter (It Makes Sense in Context). Apparently, this happened in exchange for Liam Lynch, one of the show's creators, letting Tony use his song "United States of Whatever" in a Tony Hawk's Pro Skater commercial.
- Babe Ruth appeared as Babe Ruth on the April 19, 1937 episode of Lux Radio Theatre (an adaptation of baseball movie Alibi Ike).
- Richard Wilson's fictional "radiography" Believe It! stars Richard as himself (and David Tennant as Young Richard). It also features a wide variety of Richard's showbiz friends, most of whom are played by impressionists. In Season 2, however, Celia Imrie and Sir Ian McKellen play themselves.
- Alan Titchmarsh of Ground Force and Gardener's World fame once made an appearance in an episode of The Archers as the celebrity guest of honour at the village fete.
- Stew, book writer and co-music writer of the semi-autobiographical show Passing Strange, starred in the original productions as the Character Narrator, who introduces himself in the first song as "Stew", which just adds to the strangeness because he's narrating a story based on the real Stew's life story, which is also strongly implied to be the character Stew's literal life story. It's a little confusing if you think about it too hard, so don't. Things would have gotten really crazy if his understudy had ever gone on.
- Prince Kaguya: Shouta Aoi plays himself in the epilogue.
- Aquarium: Aqua, Fubuki and Marine play themselves in a medieval setting. The modern Aqua Minato's livestream is used at the end of the novel in a Or Was It a Dream? segment. Notably, Fubuki being a token fox girl isn't questioned and a sprite of Theo shows this isn't shared among the Francois family. She also keeps surname Shirakami in the story. The dialogues still imply they are siblings.
- Heroine Chic: Fashion designer protagonist Zoe Porter has a run-in with Christene Barberich (real life global editor-in-chief & co-founder of the women's media-entertainment company Refinery29) in Chapter 26, when Christene compliments Zoe's work. This appearance was part of a larger Product Placement partnership between the comic's creators and several fashion/ lifestyle brands.
- In a rare non-live action example, Andrew Hussie plays a somewhat plot significant role as himself in Homestuck. While he's still the one writing the comic, in many ways he's also part of the story itself. This includes being able to die.
- This is invoked in Housepets! when Grape decides to show Tarot a demonstration of healthy interactions between romantic interests. She plays Tarot, and she has Peanut play himself.
Peanut: Woo, I get to be me!
- In Commentary! The Musical, the entire cast is made up of cast and crew members playing versions of themselves.
- Bill Murray plays himself in Fact Checkers Unit.
- In The Cult of Scratchwood, both Matt Alden-Farrow and Bren Tenkage play fictionalized versions of themselves (though Alden-Farrow is only referred to as "Matt" in the show proper).
- Kevin Baugh, president of the micronation Molossia, appeared as himself (and his alter ego Fritz von Baugh), in the Channel Awesome second year anniversary special, Kickassia.
- In Agents of Cracked, the two main characters are authors and editors of Cracked playing themselves. Dan O'Brien apparently plays a nerdier version of himself, when Michael Swaim plays a kinda weird, sociopathic version of himself.
- Nyx Crossing's main trio is Josh, Frank, and Clint... played by Josh Medlock, Frank Levering, and Clint Bailey.
- On Cinema: A lot of the people who appear on the show, especially if they make more than one appearance, including TimHeidecker, GreggTurkington, Mark Proksch and Joe Estevez though they tend to play fictionalized versions of themselves.
- The Cry of Mann: All of the Tanking Mann guests, being Sam Weiner, Taylor McCormic, and Casper Kelly, were playing fictionalized versions of themselves.
- NoPixel: Jason "Jay" Mewes (of The View Askewniverse) plays a criminal version of himself.
- In the Grand Finale of A Crap Guide to D&D by JoCat, Matthew Mercer cameos as himself to tell JoCrap that Poor Communication Kills; the best way to get around problems at a D&D table is to talk to your players. JoCrap yells at Mercer that "nobody cares" what he thinks.
- Title Pending: In addition to everyone being satiric versions of themselves, "Cameron James" and "Gordon" are treated as roles other people can potentially take.